Missing Arizona Girl Jahessye Shockley's Family Demands Attention

VIDEO: Grandmother wants to draw attention to Jahessye Shockleys disappearance.PlayABCNEWS.com
WATCH Missing Arizona Girl's Family Plans March

The family of missing Phoenix 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley is planning on marching to Arizona's State Capitol building today in an attempt to get state officials involved in the search for the little girl who has been missing since Oct. 11.

Family members have criticized the police investigation and are angry that the case has not garnered national media attention, especially compared to the case of missing 11-month-old Lisa Irwin in Kansas City.

Jahessye's family members, especially her grandmother, Shirley Johnson, have also said that the lack of attention to her disappearance is an issue of race.

"The Glendale Police Department has not brought this to the forefront. They botched this investigation," Johnson said, according to the Associated Press. "I believe it's because she's a little black girl."

Authorities vehemently deny that race has played any part in the investigation.

"Certainly from the police department perspective, nothing could be further from the truth," Sgt. Brent Coombs, public information officer for the Glendale Police Department, told ABCNews.com. "This is all about a beautiful little girl missing, no matter what color or nationality. It doesn't make a bit of difference to us. We'd be working the same way."

Jahessye was last seen by her three older siblings -- ages 6, 9 and 12 -- at their apartment nearly two weeks ago while their mother, Jerice Hunter, said she was out running an errand. She said she left her three older children doing chores in the backyard and locked Jahessye inside so she would be safe.

"I locked the door when I left," Hunter said in an interview with Peas in Their Pods, a non-profit that helps people find missing loved ones. "When I got back the door was unlocked when I put my key in the door."

The three older siblings have since been removed from the home by Arizona State Child Protective Services, but will not say why, according to the Associated Press.

"If you have my child, please take her to a safe place, a public place where she can be located," Hunter said, according to the Associated Press. "The family will not be the same until the child is returned, and I will be relentless in my search."

Hunter's criminal history of allegedly abusing her children has drawn public suspicion to what role, if any, she might have played in her daughter's disappearance.

Court documents from 2006 reveal that Hunter was "accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children" in California.

Her children told police that Hunter would punch them and whip them, sometimes using extension cords to hurt them. Her 14-year-old son told police that the beatings occurred multiple times a week for several years.

Police said Hunter's ex-husband George Shockley also participated in the alleged abuse. He is currently in prison after being convicted as a sex offender.

A psychological evaluation of Hunter conducted in 2006 said that she would need "a spectrum of psychological treatment" and would need to acquire "anger management tools."

Hunter was sentenced to eight years in a California prison in 2006 and lost an appeal. Prosecutors dropped the torture charges in exchange for a plea of no contest, according to ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV. However, it is unclear why Hunter was released early from prison.

Police will not discuss the criminal histories of either of Jahessye's parents, but did acknowledge that they do have criminal backgrounds that have been publicized.

"We're not discussing any criminal history," Coombs said. "The investigators were aware of all the family's background pretty immediately. It's not the first or last time we've dealt with family members of victims who have criminal history, but we still need to look at the big picture and not be tunnel-visioned."

Police said they have followed up on "hundreds" of leads but have not named any suspects or persons of interest.

Searches have included scent dogs, aircrafts and extensive ground searches.

"Everyone is a person of interest," Coombs said. "The extremely observable efforts that went on in the first 50 hours or more are less observable now, but more things are going on behind the scenes."